With Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury all declining their one-year qualifying offers from the Red Sox on Monday, all three are now free agents. While they could still return to the club, the Red Sox will need to at least start thinking about replacing them, as well as their other needs on the roster with the GM meetings underway in Orlando, Fla. this week.
Here is a look at four free agents the Red Sox could be targeting in the coming weeks:
Tim Hudson - Over the past week or so there have been reports of the Red Sox being interested in the veteran right-hander despite already having six starters inked for 2014. If acquired, the Sox could look to deal away one of their current starters. Hudson is a 15-year veteran, including the last nine in Atlanta where he worked with current Red sox catcher David Ross. Hudson is coming off of a season which saw him go 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA.
Jesse Crain - The Red Sox were interested in the right-handed reliever at the trade deadline, but the injured Crain wasn’t dealt away from the White Sox. With Andrew Bailey unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, the club could use another arm to bridge the gap to closer Koji Uehara. The 10-year veteran has seen time with the Twins and White Sox. In 38 appearances in 2013, Crain had an ERA of 0.74.
Carlos Beltran - Red Sox fans are familiar with the veteran outfielder as they saw plenty of him in the World Series with the Cardinals. Beltran has been in the league 16 years and has yet to win a World Series, something he’d have a good chance of doing in Boston. There have been rumors swirling of the Sox having some interest in the right fielder, but if he were to come to Boston, Shane Victorino would likely shift to center field, something the organization doesn’t seem to want, and having a 36-year-old Beltran and a 37-year-old David Ortiz in the lineup everyday might be a little risky.
Franklin Gutierrez - Although he may not be as big a name as the other players listed, he could be a perfect fit for the Red Sox as they will likely need to replace Ellsbury in center field. Jackie Bradley Jr. is certainly an internal option, but signing a nine-year veteran like Gutierrez might be a good move as then all the pressure wouldn’t be on a young Bradley Jr.. In 41 games this past season, Gutierrez hit .248 with the Mariners, but the 30-year-old did only walk five times in 151 plate appearances, which could turn the Sox off as it goes against their patient hitting approach.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84